Northwest Iowa School Districts Implement Applied Math and Science Courses with $50,000 in Grants

Hands-on activities nurture a love of learning and connect abstract concepts to the real world, while achieving desired educational outcomes, according to Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT). The Boyden-Hull Community and West Lyon Community School Districts have been able to provide tools to give students real-life experience with complex concepts in math and science, with the help of $50,000 in grants awarded through America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, last year.

Each district was nominated by local farmers to apply for the grant, and after submitting outstanding applications, each district received a $25,000 grant last fall. In the West Lyon district, students received new computers, laboratory testing equipment, and software that teach students about water quality testing. These tools are enhancing the learning process in biology, agriculture, chemistry, and physics classrooms. In the Boyden-Hull district, science and math classes are now outfitted with Vernier software, probeware, and data measurement devices to engage students in learning about data collection, experimentation and inquiry.

Dan Pottebaum, former science teacher and current high school principal at Boyden-Hull, explains why hands-on learning is so important in math and science.

“Anytime you can apply what you are learning, you have a greater understanding of it,” Pottebaum said. “A good teacher will show you how to identify a problem and how to solve it, but a great teacher will offer opportunities to apply what you are learning. Interactive learning builds a greater foundation of knowledge for the subject at hand and for others in the future. The tools we were able to purchase with our Grow Rural Education grant brought subject matter to life and really helped break down challenging topics into ones that students can identify with in real-world situations.”

Across the US, school districts are working to incorporate Common Core state standards and hands-on learning opportunities into their math and science curriculum. These new opportunities are designed to provide real world experiences that help grow the next generation by preparing them for success in college and in their careers. Now in its third year, the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program is once again gearing up to help rural school districts by investing over $2.3 million to strengthen math and science education in rural communities.

Farmers had the opportunity to nominate their local public school district to compete for a grant of either $10,000 or $25,000 by April 6, 2014. Administrators from nominated school districts can submit grant applications for either amount, through April 21, 2014 to enhance their math and/or science programs.

For more information about the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program and to view the official rules, a list of eligible states, counties and CRDs, visit